Nearly 22 months later, I ventured north to Vrastan (Armenian for “Georgia”) One thing is worth mentioning, the post-Soviet train system is still perfectly in tact, albeit, not lightning fast, it is still the only way to travel. Imagine being the lovely Georgian family of 3 that got to share a cabin with an American practicing his Russian. “Mom, 12 more hours of this shit, make him stop!”
There are many reasons to love trains: instant, rocky bathroom access, restaurant cars (actually moderately priced food and beverage) and being surrounded by people of the same mindset, who don’t care how long it takes, only looking to enjoy the ride. Plus there is the added bonus of being woken up by border guards at 1:00 am to give your bags a cavity search, and then trying to fall back asleep again.
Many volunteers had already been before and told me all about Tbilisi. They didn’t lie. It’s great. No, it’s very great. Why? Like Armenia, Georgia, is great for some of the same reasons; particularly you are able to see a society/culture that has had a lot of different influences from other parts of the region, such as Turkey, Russia – mosques and monasteries. Street food junkies easily get a fix. There are the requisite beverages. I met people who came, and stayed just solely for that reason alone – found a job, bought a house because the wine is that good. I tried both store bought and homemade dry red wine, amazing. However, I left.
Staying with some of the nicest hosts from parts of Europe, I shouldn’t continue further, before offering some simple condolences to the people of Poland who I stayed and was treated as good as I have by anyone before, and to hear about that tragedy on the last day of my trip was awful.
The only regret is not taking a day trip to Gori, Georgia – the birth place of a somewhat important figure in the area: Stalin. No doubt, there will be other chances to return and wander off to other parts of the country, such as Batumi on the Black Sea, etc; however, Tbilisi is the perfect city for those who like to wander. Losing track of time, by wandering, meant I needed a faster mode of transport back to Armenia: marshutka. It was faster, but no restaurant car, bumpy bathroom, family to annoy with my pathetic Russian-speaking abilities. Nevertheless, there should be plenty of people at the Uzbek-British wedding I am attending this weekend in Yerevan.